Rating: 4 Pulses
Michelle Pfeiffer, James Marsden
Directed by Adam Shankman
Remakes, which are currently so prolific in Hollywood, tend to lack creativity and seldom compare to the original. Hairspray has the added pressure of being a remake of both John Waters’ 1988 cult classic and 2002’s Tony-award winning musical.
Drawing mostly from the latter, the film is as looming as the Broadway lights and as broad as John Travolta’s sequined bottom.
Fortunately the music and lyrics, paired with an impeccable ensemble cast, give the movie a fresh feeling. And if Travolta in drag isn’t enough to separate you from your money, it’s also incredibly entertaining.
Of course it helps to have a taste for campy musicals. The songs flitter from typical booming dance numbers to soulful renderings. The costumes are vibrant, the make up is picturesque and the hair would make Jackie O proud.
Set in Baltimore in the early ’60s, the film takes on race relations with flair while maintaining Waters’ dry humor.
Snatched from Long Island obscurity to take on a role made famous by Ricki Lake, Blonsky is adorable as Tracy Turnblad, a plucky teen with a love for dancing. Obsessed with the Corny Collins dance show, she leaps at the chance to audition, only to be criticized by a malicious station manager (Pfeiffer), whose ambitious daughter wants to be the star of the show.
But when Collins (Mardsen) spots her smooth moves she picked up with the black kids in detention, he hires her immediately.
He also shares her desire for integration, which the innocent Tracy knows is the wave of the future and she intends to fight for her friends and their right to dance side by side.
She’s also going to give her young competitor a run for the Miss Hairspray title, and her baby faced crooner boyfriend.
And to spite yourself, you’re going to enjoy it.